Over the next four weeks, we’ll be counting down the 20 most important Eagles for the 2020 season.
The Eagles this offseason let Malcolm Jenkins walk but re-signed Rodney McLeod to a two-year deal. Without Jenkins, McLeod’s role with the Eagles will be even more important in 2020.
McLeod, who just turned 30, has played four full seasons with the Eagles and he’s been a big part of the team’s success. After a torn ACL in 2018, he returned in 2019 and played all 16 games and played at a pretty high level. No, McLeod has never been a Pro Bowler and it seems unlikely that he’ll become one in his ninth NFL season. But he means a lot to the Eagles.
Jim Schwartz has called McLeod the calming presence in the Eagles’ secondary and that’s important. He’s the free safety and often the last line of defense for Schwartz’s unit. It’s his job to calm everyone and to give them peace of mind, knowing that he’ll be assignment-sound.
But McLeod has some fire in him too. While he’s typically a lead-by-example type, we saw his fiery side in 2018. Even though he missed most of that season with the injury, he was the guy getting the defensive backs pumped up in pre-game huddles. While he’s normally the quieter type on the field, he can flip a switch too. Without Jenkins, the Eagles are going to rely on McLeod to be more of a leader on and off the field.
And without Jenkins, the communication between McLeod and Jalen Mills (who was No. 14 on our list) will be really important. Sure, they’ve played together since 2016, but that was with Mills as a corner. Now that he’s a safety, it’ll be up to McLeod to make sure that transition is smooth.
Last season, McLeod started all 16 games and had 76 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles. Since joining the Eagles in 2016, McLeod leads the team in interceptions with eight. The next closest players are Ronald Darby and Malcolm Jenkins with six apiece.
The Eagles signed McLeod as a free agent back in 2016 and it has ended up being a great signing for the Birds. Once undrafted by the Rams, McLeod has become a key member of the Eagles and he’ll be even more important in 2020.
Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast:
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.